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'Resilient' Prince Andrew to focus on work in wake of sex claims

By Tony Jones

A "resilient" Duke of York will attempt to put allegations of underage sex with a teenager behind him and return to public life when he attends a conference for world and business leaders.

Andrew has faced mounting controversy after he was named in US court documents as having sex with a woman, identified in reports as Virginia Roberts, on three separate occasions when she was a minor.

Palace officials have "emphatically denied" he had sexual contact with the woman and a royal aide added that in the coming weeks the Duke will be focusing on his work promoting education, technology and enterprise.

The Duke flew home on Sunday from a skiing holiday in the Swiss resort of Verbier but is expected to return to the country in a few weeks to join prime ministers, business leaders and economists at Davos, the venue for the World Economic Forum's annual meeting.

A royal aide suggested that, after the traditional new year break, Andrew would "move on and push ahead" with his work.

The aide said: "The civil case is an ongoing process that won't end any time soon. However, since 2012 the Duke has worked very hard to establish and refocus his working priorities on education, technology and enterprise and he will carry on with that work. It's fair to say that the Duke of York is nothing if not resilient. He will be keen to push on with the work he's been doing in recent years."

Andrew has regularly attended Davos in recent years and usually hosts a reception for leading figures from the worlds of business and politics.

The event, which runs from January 21-24, is not listed in Andrew's official online diary but there is nothing to suggest he will not attend.

There has been speculation that he will travel to the Queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk for talks with his mother over the crisis. It is understood he will be spending the week quietly at his home, Royal Lodge at Windsor Great Park in Berkshire, but could still make a journey to Sandringham.

Meanwhile, Sky Roberts, the father of Ms Roberts, claimed in an interview with the Daily Mail that his daughter had met the Queen.

Mr Roberts (58) told the newspaper: "Virginia told me a few years back that she met Prince Andrew when she went to London and she also said while they were there she met the Queen."

But a palace spokesman insisted: "There is nothing to suggest the claim is true. We have no record of such a meeting."

Background

The Duke of York has been dogged by accusations of a lack of judgment about his links with US billionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein since 2011. At the start of that year a picture emerged of the two men walking in New York and soon afterwards Virginia Roberts claimed Epstein had exploited her while a minor - a picture featuring her with Andrew was also printed. The Duke stepped down from his role as the UK's roving business ambassador in 2012.

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